Some Thoughts About Mouthwash

Did you know that there are two types of mouthwash? They are cosmetic and therapeutic. A cosmetic mouthwash may taste good and sweeten your breath for a short time, but that’s all it does. A therapeutic mouthwash contains ingredients that help reduce or manage conditions like bad breath, gingivitis, plaque, and tooth decay.

What Are The “Therapeutic Ingredients” in Mouthwash?

-Cetylpyridinium chloride helps to decrease the symptoms of bad breath.
-Chlorhexidine and essential oils aid in plaque and gingivitis management.
-Fluoride has proved helpful in prevention of tooth decay.
-Peroxide acts as a whitening agent.

While many mouthwashes are available over the counter, those containing chlorhexidine require a prescription for purchase.

How Do Therapeutic Ingredients Help?

Bad breath results from the “volatile sulphur compounds” produced from dental plaque and bacteria, plus the breakdown of food in the mouth. Antimicrobials in therapeutic mouthwashes are effective in controlling bad breath. The lengthy list of ingredients devoted to bad breath control includes zinc salts, ketone, terpene, and ionone, in addition to chlorhexidine, chlorine dioxide, cetylpyridinium chloride, and essential oils. Antimicrobials also help manage plaque and gingivitis when they are part of a daily program that includes brushing and flossing.

Some mouthwashes include lidocaine or other topical anesthetics to provide pain relief. The effects of dry mouth (xerostomia) can be reduced with non-alcoholic mouthwashes that include enzymes and cellulose derivatives that mimic saliva.

Mouthwashes containing 1.5 to 2 percent hydrogen peroxide may lighten tooth color with repeated use over several months.

Mouthwashes, whether over-the-counter or prescribed, can be a beneficial addition to daily care. However, nothing can replace daily brushing and flossing and routine visits to the dentist for maintaining good oral health.


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